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United States v. Brooks

June 2, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LEONARD E. BROOKS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambrose, Chief District Judge

FINDINGS OF FACT CONCLUSIONS OF LAW and ORDER OF COURT

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. On March 24, 2005, Ohio State Trooper Larry Barrett was on routine patrol of Interstate 70, a known drug trafficking pipeline. Barrett was stationary at a paved crossover in a marked canine unit vehicle.

2. At approximately noon on that date, Barrett observed a gold Chevrolet Suburban passing a tractor-trailer in the left lane.

3. Once the driver of the Suburban saw Barrett, he straddled the center line for 1/8 to 1/4 mile, then pulled behind a second tractor-trailer and followed it at what Barrett believed to be an unsafe distance.

4. Because he considered the driver of the Suburban to have dramatically changed his driving behavior when he saw the police officer and to have violated Ohio driving laws, Barrett stopped the Suburban and the driver, Defendant Leonard Brooks, exited the car. Defendant produced a license and said the vehicle was registered in the name of his wife, who was a passenger in the Suburban.

5. Defendant said he and his wife had been in California for four (4) to five (5) days visiting family. Defendant was nervous, made no eye contact with the trooper, shifted from foot to foot and smoked heavily. Defendant was unable to give the name of the city in California where he had been.

6. Barrett then approached Defendant's wife, who was in the passenger seat. She told Barrett they had been in Norwalk, California for one (1) week and, initially, that they had stayed with family and later, that they had stayed in a hotel.

7. Barrett smelled a strong odor of air freshener coming from the Suburban and noticed numerous fast-food wrappers within the Suburban. Barrett believed that these were some indication of drug trafficking: the air freshener masked the smell of drugs and fast-food wrappers demonstrated travelers in a hurry to reach their destination.

8. Because of the inconsistencies between the statements of Defendant and his wife, their nervous behavior, the air freshener and fast-food wrappers, Barrett returned to his police car and asked for a criminal history check on Defendant and his wife and radioed Trooper Sims for assistance.

9. Trooper Sims, with a canine unit, was approximately 1/3 mile away. He had stopped a box truck and requested Barrett to bring the Suburban, the Defendant and his wife, to the canine unit. Defendant and his wife, followed by Barrett, traveled the short distance to Sims' location.

10. Barrett wanted a canine search of the Suburban because of his suspicion that Defendant and his wife were involved in transporting narcotics.

11. Sims is a canine officer and Barrett asked Sims to allow Sims' dog to walk around the Suburban. It is a practice of the Ohio Highway Patrol for troopers to use other troopers dogs, if possible, to eliminate any possibility of bias.

12. Sims' dog, Zeus, is responsible for the largest marijuana seizure in Ohio. Zeus and Sims successfully completed four (4) week-long training sessions. Sims and Zeus are certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association and the Ohio Peace Officers Training Commission and were certified at the time of this incident. Sims and Zeus have participated in ...


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